January 24, 2017

Updated! The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings (45 games) in wake of stunner-upset of Golden State; plus Miami flavor to this Super Bowl, Radio Tuesday & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 24. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page that debuted Monday. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl, Montoya wins Miami Race of Champions & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and televised 10-noon on ESPNU and noon-1 on ESPN2. We'll have fun or bomb trying.

New column: This Super Bowl's Miami flavor: It'll be Falcons vs. Patriots in Houston, but Miami will be represented, as always, in the latest Super Bowl. Read about all of the South Florida-raised players and former Hurricanes and Dolphins in this year's game. Click on Miami In the Super Bowl. 

Montoya wins ROC, the Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions held here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

NO WAY! WHU!?: Cubs Win World Series! Trump Elected President! Heat Beat Golden State! The latter happened last night here, 105-102, on Dion Waiters' Last second shot. No, seriously!

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES): Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 15-30 on four straight wins after last night's home upset  of Golden State, here's The Luddite's ninth installment, with 40-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (45 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,315

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,099

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             870

4. James Johnson (4)           779

5. Dion Waiters (6)              538

6. Josh Richardson (5)         483

7. Rodney McGruder (7)     428

8. Willie Reed (9)               369

9. Justise Winslow (8)        355

10. Wayne Ellington (10)    354

Others: Luke Babbitt 259, Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 231, Udonis Haslem 61, Okaro White 10.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

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FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2017

HERALD LEGEND EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: MY TRIBUTE COLUMN; plus Kiper's first '17 mock draft: Gator to Dolphins, no Kaaya; also, 2 Marlins (sort of) elected to Hall, Goodell is a coward, newest Back In My Day video, your verdict on Super Bowl matchup & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 19. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters today figuring out my NFL Championship Game picks. Gonna nail 'em. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- best-selling of all the Herald books -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four poll, related Tannehill column, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: Longtime former Miami Herald sports editor and columnist Edwin Pope died early this evening at age 88. My column on my mentor and friend: Thank You, Edwin.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism, other select recent columns: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, our latest column, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

JdavisGATORS LB JARRAD DAVIS TO DOLPHINS, SAYS KIPER: Mel Kiper's first 2017 Mock Draft for ESPN is out and he has Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (pictured) going to Miami 22nd overall in first round. Sayeth Mel: "As a steady and reliable linebacker with a nose for the football, Davis' versatility stands out. He could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, though he's not a guy who will get 10 sacks on the outside in a 3-4. He can be an every-down guy." I think Kiper is right on the position; LB a big need. He has two other Gators, cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, going 13th and 14 overall. He has one Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, going 12th. Conspicuously, Kiper has zero Hurricanes going in first round. I tried to tell you to stay, Brad Kaaya, but did you listen? No! Another early Canes departure, tight end David Njoku, is much more likely than Kaaya to sneak into the first round. Click here for Mel's Mock 1.0.

TWO FORMER MARLINS PLAYERS MAKE HALL OF FAME: Nailed it! Raines, Bagwell and Pudge make the Hall of Fame. Raines and Pudge had (very brief, one-year) Marlins careers. Original post: There is little suspense to tonight's (or future) Baseball Hall of Fame announcements, thanks to Bagwellrainesbbhoftracker.com, which collects and publishes ballots that have been publicly revealed. As of today they had collected 233, or 55.2 percent -- including mine, Pudgewhich I revealed in this blog on Dec. 16. From the composite numbers we can state with certainty that, barring a shocking, aberrant swing in remaining votes, Tim Raines (running at 89.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (88.3%) will sail in easily above the needed 75% minimum. Some may recall Raines ended his career a Marlin in 2002. A third inductee very likely will be Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- a 2003 Marlin instrumental in the World Series championship -- now at 78.7%. Raines and Bagwell are pictured right and Rodriguez left. Those three likely will be the only inductees, although two others, Trevor Hoffman (72.5%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), are close enough that a late surge in voting, though unlikely, could yet sweep them into Cooperstown. My ballot included all five of the players mentioned so far. The vote totals so far of the other five on my ballot: Edgar Martinez 65.4, Barry Bonds 63.8, Roger Clemens 62.9%, Manny Ramirez 24.2 and Gary Sheffield 11.7. The faces of the Steroid Era, Bonds and Clemens, are seeing their totals rise gradually and I predict they'll get in someday. Not as sure about Martinez. Very surprised by Ramirez's low total. And I'm almost alone on Sheffield, I guess. Sorry, Sheff. Not gonna happen for you.

THE LIST: EX-MARLINS PLAYERS IN THE HALL OF FAME: Four future Hall of Famers have worn a Marlins uniform. The short list doubled yesterday, although all four men played only a brief portion of their careers in Miami. The sort-of Marlins in Cooperstown, ranked in order of the percentage of career games played with Marlins:

Player                        Games with Marlins        With Miami    Inducted

C Pudge Rodriguez      6.23% (161 of 2,583)      2003             2017

OF Andre Dawson       4.58% (121 of 2,642)      1995-96        2010

OF Tim Raines            3.86% (98 of 2,536)        2002              2017

C Mike Piazza             0.26% (5 of 1,944)          1998              2016 

GoodellROGER GOODELL, WHAT A COWARD!: The NFL commissioner needs to rethink his weekend plans, change his flight, and get his ass over to Foxborough on Sunday. He is hiding from New England Patriots fans, who loathe him over the whole Deflategate thing. He doesn't need to sit among them. He be encased high in a suite as always. But he needs to be there and take the reaction like a man. Instead he'll be in Atlanta for the second week in a row. I have defended Goodell at times, more than most in the media. But he's wrong on this. Weak, weak!

Poll result: Bring on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, please: With NFL down to its final four, we asked which of four possible Super Bowl matchups you'd most want to watch, and it was Packers vs. Patriots on top with 41.8 percent. After that it was Packers-Steelers 25.7%, Falcons-Steelers 19.9%, and Falcons-Patriots 12.6%. combined team totals were: Packers 67.5%, Patriots 54.4%, Steelers 45.6% and Falcons 32.4%.

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE DEATH OF THE CIRCUS: There's a few seconds of unrelated jibberish here before the BIMD kicks in. Warning: Animal-rights folks might want to muster whatever sense of humor they have before watching this:

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 17, 2017

NFL: 4 teams left, 4 Super Bowl matchups possible. Which would you most want to watch? New poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Final Four through Dolphins/Tannehill prism, Radio Tuesday, the wedding crasher & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Wedding1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 17. Honoring the memory of civil rights giant Martin Luther King on MLK Day yesterday. He'd be 87 had he not been killed by a sniper on April 4, 1968 at age 39. 2) Still can't believe my older son Christopher is a married man! Congrats again to Chris and his beautiful bride Christie on their wedding Saturday in Fort Lauderdale. So happy for them. Pictured: Myself alongside a wedding crasher later identified as Dan LeBatard. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL divisional-round picks and poll, Hot Button Top  10, your UM/Braun verdict, The List, Bitter Mickey/MNF video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, airing locally on 790 The Ticket from 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m., and nationally on ESPN Radio from 10-1. National show also simulcasts on TV on ESPNU. Or is it ESPN 2 now, I can never remember.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, Canton-bound and having great seasons. Matt Ryan, having an MVP year. Ben Roethlisberger, dynamic gunslinger as always. These are the NFL's Final Four quarterbacks. It invites a Dolfan to (again) wonder if Ryan Tannehill is good enough, or close enough to being great. That's my new column. Click on Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? to read.

Select other recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

AfcnfcNFL FINAL FOUR: WHICH SUPER BOWL MATCHUP WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO WATCH?: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game and New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC title will funnel into an intriguing Super Bowl matchup no matter what it is. Of the four possible matchups, any one of them suggests an entertaining, high-scoring game. But you can only prefer one. Only one can be the game you'd most want to watch. So. Which is it? Take a dip in our poll.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2017

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings at midseason (40 games); plus are we OK with PEDs guy Ryan Braun at UM baseball banquet? Last day to vote!; also, Vance Joseph, Bitter Mickey/BIMD, Saban's tears, UM football ranked No. 16 & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 12. Holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my NFL divisional-round playoff picks. Anybody got any extra luck I can borrow? 2) Happy anniversary this week to my wonderful wife, the greatest person I have ever known. Love you! 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins eliminated in Pittsburgh with season-ending DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bitter Mickey/Back In My Day double-play from LeBatard Show: Click here for Tuesday's show podcast. The Bitter Mickey/BIMD back-to-back kicks in around the 38-minute mark.

Hurricanes 16th in (very) early 2017 college football Top 25: It's out from Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com. Click here to read. UM was ranked No. 20 in the final Associated Press poll for this season, the Canes' first year-end Top 25 ranking since 2009. Also, UM has 33-1 national-title odds via Bovada, tied for 11th best.

DSM final rating best since 2008: The Dolphins season ended with consecutive losses including Sunday's in the playoffs; still, the season-ending Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating of 76.2 percent is the second-best in the nine-year history of our postgame polls, and best since '08. See the previous blogpost for complete week-by-week results and year-by-year totals. 

Dolphins-Steelers game column, select other recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, off Sunday's eliminating loss, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 11-29 after last night's loss at Golden State, here's The Luddite's eighth installment, with 35-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (Midseason/40 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,177

2. Goran Dragic (2)               937

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            802

4. James Johnson (4)         678

5. Josh Richardson (5)        483

6. Dion Waiters (7)                393

7. Rodney McGruder (8)      385

8. Justise Winslow (6)         355

9. Willie Reed (11)                 329

10. Wayne Ellington (9)      284

Others: Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 226, Luke Babbitt 200, Udonis Haslem 61.

IS DOLPHINS LOSING DC JOSEPH A BIG DEAL? (NAH): Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph leaves the Dolphins after one season to become Denver Broncos head coach. I guess the Broncos were not watching Sunday as Joseph's Miami defense gave up scoring drives of 85, 90 and 83 yards to Pittsburgh on the playoff game's first three series. During the season his unit ranked 29th in total defense, 15th in pass defense, 30th in run defense and 18th in points allowed, despite being one of only seven teams with two Pro Bowl defensive starters.   

IS RYAN BRAUN THE RIGHT CHOICE TO SPEAK AT CANES BASEBALL BANQUET?: I think I'm sort of against this but don't feel too strongly. I guess that makes me conflicted. I wonder if you Braunare. (Hence, the poll that follows, because I'm curious). Former Miami Hurricanes baseball great Ryan Braun (pictured), now prominently of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be the featured speaker Feb. 10 at the team's annual preseason First Pitch banquet. The negative? Braun, of course, was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal over performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Many will recall he was suspended 65 games in 2013 for violating MLB's drug policy. Not saying that should be a life sentence on his reputation, but is he the best choice just a few years later to be the star attraction at your preseason banquet? UM's baseball stadium of course is partly named in honor of another steroids guy, Alex Rodriguez, but that's contractual, and tied to a major donation. Jim Morris' program was under no such obligation to invite Braun. It  makes me wonder if UM's athletic director signed off on this and if the university president is comfortable with it. Right now, though, it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll.

UglyTHE BAD NEWS, MIAMI? HEAT AT GOLDEN STATE. COVER YOUR EYES!: Update: Heat with a credible 107-95 loss last night at Golden State. The Good Whiteside (28 points, 20 rebounds) appeared. You know it's a bad season when you see the good in a 12-point loss. Original post: I guess it wasn't bad enough that the Dolphins took a crap Sunday after finally making the playoffs, so now the reeling Miami plays at mighty Golden State tonight, and what would have been a terrific matchup in, say, 2013, now is hard to envision being anything but season-low, lopsided-ugly. The good news: Doesn't start 'til 10:30, so much of South Florida won't bother to see it. Heat, 16-point underdogs, are having a train-wreck season at 11-28, evidently with the entire roster on the trading block, while 24-karat Golden State is 32-6 after adding Kevin Durant to Stephon Curry. Let's see Reid and Fiorentino try to put a positive spin on this one!

SadsabanTHE GOOD NEWS? BUT AT LEAST NICK SABAN LOST!: College football showed the NFL how it's done Monday night. We sat through four NFL first-round playoff games decided by a combined 121-45 score, none of them close or particularly interesting to watch. Then, last night, the CFP finale in Tampa gave us Clemson 35, Alabama 31, a compelling comeback victory that dethroned Nick Saban -- which alone made it gratifying for Saban-hating South Florida slow to forgive Nick for lying and baling on the Dolphins. So, as tonight's Heat game gets sad, So Fla, bright up by picturing Saban's abject disappointment as his kingdom quaked a bit.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 30, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.2% (Final). Record set for highest season-ending approval rating; plus UM ends 10-year bowl win drought, finishes 9-4, awaits Kaaya decision; also, Greg Cote bobblehead, your word on Dolphins' preferred playoff foe & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters begging my regular-season-ending NFL picks. Make me smart for a day, Lord. 2) R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, mother dying one day after her daughter. Surreal. 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas gift for any Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins preferred-playoff-opponent poll, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MebobbleMe, bobblehead: One of the least-expected, most bizarre and therefore best gifts I got for Christmas this year was a Greg Cote Bobblehead my wonderfully strange wife had made. It is pictured. It looks like me ... if I were younger, slimmer, better-looking and had more hair. Which makes it perfect!  

Hurricanes: The road 'back' must start with a bowl win: UM was 0-6 in bowl games since winning its last in 2006, before last night's 31-14 Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia. Click on Road Back Starts With Bowl Win to read my latest column. Select recent other columns: The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts from tonight directly below the latest, season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: 97.2% (SEASON FINAL): Results are certified in the latest and 2016 season final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.2 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Wednesday's Csm31-14 victory vs. West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando putting the Hurricanes' final season record at 9-4 and ending UM's 10-year, six-game bowl victory drought. This wraps up the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was our last 2016 DSM poll we suggested you place special emphasis on the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was be around 9 a.m. today/Friday. Thanks to the thousands who participated in our 2016 CSM polls and we'll see you again next season!

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

G12: 95.9% following 40-21 victory vs. Duke

Bowl/Final: 97.2% following 31-24 victory vs. West Virginia

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2016--97.2% (following 9-4 season); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

BOWL: HURRICANES 31, WEST VIRGINIA 14: ALL ABOUT ENDINGS TONIGHT AS MIAMI SEES ITS BOWL DROUGHT END, NOW HOPES THE KAAYA ERA DOESN'T: Postgame thoughts: Miami's first bowl win since 2006 after an 0-6 stretch tonight was sweet partly because it began so badly. West Virginia jumped out front and Brad Kaaya and the UM offense were horrible. But UM's defense kept being really good as Kaaya found his game and got hot, finishing with 282 yards and four TD passes. The result put a bow on a 9-4 season, Mark Richt's first here, that should be good enough to see Miami ranked in the final, post-bowl Top 25 poll. Now, though, UM awaits Kaaya's stay-or-go decision, which is expected by the weekend. To ESPN Radio he said, "I don't have an answer yet. I have to do some soul searching." It's a close call. I think he should stay. We'll know soon ..... 4Q: Another fourth-down stop for Canes. Almost time to start counting the win ..... 3Q: Big fourth-down stop for UM defense. Such a momentum shift since that first quarter ... The U's lead now 31-14 on 30-yard FG ... WVU within 28-14 on 4-yard Howard run ... Miami 28-7 now on Kaaya 23-yard TD toss to Njoku. Kaaya has been fantastic since his slow opening quarter ..... Halftime thoughts: Rarely have I seen a team, an offense, a quarterback, go from an awful first quirter to a dominant second like the Canes have tonight. Wow. ..... 2Q: Berrios 26-yard scoring pass from Kaaya for 21-7 just before half. Kaaya awful in 1Q, sublime in second ... Canes 14-7 now late in half on Kaaya 3-yard flip to Lewis. Big turnaround for Miami offense ... Boom! Just like that. It's 7-7 on Kaaya's pass that Ahmmon Richards turns into 51-yard scoring play ... The blessing in disguise for UM at 7-0 down? The Kaaya we are seeing tonight is not NFL-ready, and the NFL is watching ... Fortunate. Penalty wipes out Kaaya interception ... Bettors on the "under" are feeling good early, with the o/u around 56 at kickoff ..... 1Q: Miami doing nada offensively in first Q ... WVU 7-0 on McKoy 6-yard TD run. Mountaineers ranked with a better record but underdogs here -- that's big incentive ... UM's Norton big fumble recovery on opening series; WVU was on the move in Canes territory. Alas, Miami soon punts ... Seemed start of game might be picked up late by ESPN because Pitt-Northwestern ran long, but timing turned out perfect ..... Original post: One month and two days since ending its regular season at 8-4 with four straight wins, Miami will see if that momentum carries over this evening vs. Umwvu10-2 West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, in an ESPN broadcast with the odd starting time of 5:30 p.m. UM is playing the highest-ranked opponent (Mountaineers are No. 16) of any unranked team, yet WVU is a 3 1/2-point betting underdog despite its ranking and better record. Perhaps because UM leads the all-time series, 16-3. Miami likely would finish ranked in the low Top 25 in the final post-bowl Bradkaayapolls with a win to complete Mark Richt's first season. As important, UM seeks an end to an 0-6 bowl run in a drought dating to 2006 -- the predominant theme from a Canes vantage in the buildup to this game. (Click on Road Back Starts With Bowl Win for my column previewing tonight's game). Of course, the biggest result to come from this game -- bigger than a win or loss, at least to me -- will be quarterback Brad Kaaya's decision on whether to return for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft. It's pretty much assumed tight end David Njoku will turn pro [update: he did]. Many think Kaaya (pictured) will, too, although I am unconvinced. With no consensus that he'd be a first-round pick, I think Brad would be smart to return to UM, and I think he still might. Seventeen UM seniors will be playing their last game for The U, Corn Elder, Stacy Coley and ironman lineman Danny Isidora most notable among them. As for the game itself, the result will turn on how Kaaya handles a very aggressive West Virginia defense that loves to blitz. Mountaineers forced 25 opponent turnovers this season including a nation-leading (tied) eight interceptions by cornerback Rasul Douglas. I see Kaaya as experienced enough to beat the blitz, this defense and this Big 12 opponent. By the way, if Kaaya goes nuts he'll have an outside shot to challenge Bernie Kosar's 32-year-old UM season record of 3,642 passing yards. Kaaya would need 393 today to break that long-standing mark. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-23.

Poll result: Dolfans hoping for the easier game in Houston: We asked which of two possible opponents you'd rather see the Dolphins face to open the playoffs, and overwhelmingly you picked the easier foe over the sexier game, with Houston Texans drubbing Pittsburgh Steelers by 59.7 percent to 15.2%. The other 25.1% voted, "Either. It's the playoffs!" 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 21, 2016

The 4 Dolphins who may yet join Wake, Suh in Pro Bowl; plus my 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot revaled, college football players skipping bowl games (with poll), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- perfect for any Dolfan on your list and just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins rout Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers president joins Army & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. The Gift Of Winning, the latest, on the Dolphins gifting their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

WakesuhON PRO BOWL DOLPHINS, SO-CALLED SNUBS AND WHO MIGHT STILL MAKE IT: Defensive end Cam Wake and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were elected to the Pro Bowl from Miami -- the only Fins so honored, both deserving, and neither a surprise. This is the real 44-man AFC and NFC PB roster. It will change. Several selected players will drop out and be replaced, but replacement guys always have that asterisk attached. They are the sort-of Pro Bowl'ers. The annual media chewing-over of so-called Pro Bowl "snubs" keeps mentioning Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (who made it last year) and running back Jay Ajayi, but the case for both is modest. Landry's 82 catches for 1,031 yards are top-five in the AFC but he has only three TD catches. Tough to claim Pro Bowl impact with three TDs. Ajayi's 1,007 yards rank sixth in the AFC, and he was the catalyst for the win streak that saved the season. Landry and Ajayi both should be among eventual replacement Pro Bowl guys. Two other possibilities as add-ons for Miami: Linebacker Kiko Alonso, of the 103 tackles and four fumble  recoveries, and cornerback Byron Maxwell, of the four forced fumbles, two picks and team-leading 15 passes defensed. Both have had productive seasons.

HERE'S MY 2016 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: Transparency is all the rage. Eventually the Hall of Fame, the Baseball Writers Association of America and other outlets will publish Mebbwaaeveryone's ballots, but here, for the first time, you can see mine. It's due by Dec. 31; mine will be in the mail (the BBWAA still does it old-school) today. This is my third year as a proud and diligent voter who takes the honor seriously. I could vote for up to 10 former players and I took full advantage. My 10, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Guerrero, Ramirez and Rodriguez were ballot "rookies," first-year eligibles, who got my vote. Raines was a bit of a sentimental nod; he's on his final try and I hope he makes it. Martinez was a close call. Sheffield probably has no shot but what the hell. Close misses for me included Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. As for my including some "steroid guys," I no longer think that taint should be a lifetime sentence when it comes to exceptional cases (such as Bonds and Clemens) whose enormous careers were hardly reliant on PEDs. But I will continue to push for Cooperstown to include on its bronze plaques the warts and all -- including the cloud of PEDs and other extenuating circumstances that affected a former player's eventual election. Which reminds me: If Pete Rose were on the ballot, I'd have voted for him. And if there was a write-in space, I'd have written his name.

COLLEGE PLAYERS (AND COACHES) SHOULD FEEL OBLIGATION TO PARTICIPATE IN BOWL GAMES: Star running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Leonard Fournette of LSU (pictured) have decided Skippersto not play in their teams' bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft -- and are being widely applauded in the media. Ths is almost certain to become an annual trend that seriously weakens the bowls and college football's postseason. There is no preparation for the draft, of course. Don't have your picture taken wearing a gas-mask bong. There. That's your preparation. By prepare, these players mean avoid the risk of injury that might cost them draft stock and money. Even though the risk of injury is very small. Even though players live with that risk all the time and don't cower from it -- except when convenient to them. Do I blame these players for skipping their bowl games? Yes. It is selfish. They are putting themselves above their team. Their college season includes their bowl game. If you are healthy, you should play. [Update: Canes coach Mark Richt agrees with me. Yesterday he said, of players skipping bowls: "I think it's sad, personally. Until the season is over, you should be with your team." Fournette and McCaffrey are skipping the Citrus and Sun bowls, respectively. But what if it was Alabama's star players following suit and jeopardizing their team's national-championship chances. Would that be different? I don't just blame players. Coaches (and assistants) who take different jobs should fulfill their bowl obligations before leaving, such as Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who already has bolted for FAU. Am I wrong? Tell me in this poll.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 15 RESULTS: ROCKY WEEK FOR PREDIX, LOBOS IN THIRD-PLACE GAME: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Tough go. Went 10-6 straight-up (not terrible) but a rough 6-9-1 against the spread, with the tie a 3-pooinjt push by Oakland. We're still a very strong 30 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos went to 11-4 by beating Roy and will now face Sarah Spain for third-pace, while the radio show's championship game will be a heavyweight bout: Dan vs. Stugotz. Meanwhile the Lobos will name our MVL -- Most Valuable Lobo -- next week. Might have a poll and let you all decide who should wear the crown. #WeAreTheLobos
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 14, 2016

Dolphins: Playoff hopes made really simple, first 2017 draft projection; plus FIU/Butch Davis vs. FAU/Lane Kiffin. Poll. Last day to vote; also, R.I.P. Alan Thicke, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 14 (extreme results) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Alanthicke1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14. R.I.P. Alan Thicke, friend of the LeBatard Show who died unexpectedly of a heart attack last night at 69. 2) NFL announced that Miami would play one of the four games in London next season. Dolphins will face the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 or 4, either Sept. 24 or Oct. 1. 3) The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Arizona but Tannehill injured, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Heat-struggles verdict, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill's injury, other select recent columns: The Handoff Nobody Wanted, my latest column, on Matt Moore taking over as Dolphins QB for injured Ryan Tannehill. Also: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

10winsDOLPHINS PLAYOFF HOPES, 2017 DRAFT OUTLOOK: A double-dose of late-season Dolphins stuff... Playoff hopes made very simple: It's 10 wins or bust: Why do we try to complicate this with all of the tiebreaker permutations and various scenarios and if-this and if-thats. The Dolphins making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 could not be simpler, really. They have three games left: at Jets, at Bills, home vs. Pats. If they win at least two of the three, they'll make it. if they don't, they won't. Period. That's it. Let's let makenflplayofs.com tell us with their computers and their percentile Orbustlikelihoods. Miami is 8-5. If the Fins finish 3-0 = 11-5, they are not quite guaranteed but 97.29 percent certain to get in. If they finish 2-1 = 10-6, they're still quite likely at 58.51%. But iff they finish 1-2 = 9-7, the probability Ojhowardplummets all the way down to a very unlikely 6.91%. At 0-3 = 8-8, it's a negligible trace of 0.01%. So, you want this, Dolphins? Don't worry about tiebreakers or what are teams are doing. Win at least two more. Get to 10. Not complicated. Early mock draft has Fins taking Alabama tight end: Crimson Tide TE O.J. Howard (pictured left) goes to Miami with the No. 16 pick of first round, according to Todd McShay's astoundingly premature Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today. He has another 'Bama guy, DE Jonathan Allen, going No. 1 overall to Cleveland. McShay has four (!) Florida Gators in the first round: CB Teez Tabor 18th, DT Caleb Brantley 23rd, LB Jarrad Davis 24th and CB Quincy Wilson 27th. He has FSU RB Dalvin Cook going 20th.

A RIVALRY HEATS UP BECAUSE FIU VS. FAU IS NOW BUTCH DAVIS VS. LANE KIFFIN: Interesting times for college football in South Florida. This has been a market owned in the sport by the FaufiuMiami Hurricanes for so long -- a stature only underlined before this season when UM made the very popular hire of longtime Georgia coach and Canes alum Mark Richt, who started and finished strong in guiding The U to an 8-4 season and upcoming bowl. Miami's FIU and Boca Raton's FAU have been afterthoughts, even Butchdavis Lanekiffinthough both are FBS (nee Division 1) level. But that could be changing with the dynamic coaching hires each has made. Don't get me wrong. UM still is local king in collball, a status pretty much unthreatened. But FIU's Panthers, in Butch Davis, and FAU's Owls, now with Lane Kiffin, have jumped on the radar, nationally as well as locally, with attention-getting hires of "name" coaches. I don't know how long each will be here. FIU and FAU are, for now, steppingstone jobs. Davis, at 65, may content to make this job his career's winter. No doubt Kiffin, 41 and a coaching nomad, is looking to parlay something good in Miami to his next top-tier shot. But however long each man is here, the FIU-FAU rovalry is enlivened, big-time, as FIU gets a Canes head coach who is a proven recruiter, and FAU gets an experienced head coach who most recently has been Alabama's (very successful) offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. That's how to get noticed, folks. I'm curious who you consider to be the bigger hire -- who's fans should be more excited right now. Say you followed Conference USA football, FIU and FAU. Stepping back to see the question neutrally, whose fans should be more excited by their school's recent hire? Take a dip in our poll.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 14 RESULTS: EXCELLENCE ON PREDIX, BUT LOBOS BOW OUT UGLY: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team, and this week's results could not be more extreme. NFL pix: Excellence! We went 12-4 straight-up and a crazy-good 12-3-1 against the spread, with the tie the Patriots pushing at seven points. We're now a really, really strong 33 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Ugh. As in Ugh-ly. Greg's Lobos ended the regular season at 10-3 and the No. 1 playoff seed in the radio-show, but promptly got our ass kick and quickly were eliminated in a 117-37 loss -- our worst performance of the season by a ton. That it was Dan "Auto-Draft" LeBatard who beat me made it worse. The Lobos may be forced to consider managerial changes. #WeAreTheLobos

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (25 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 8-17 fter last night's win over Washington, here's The Luddite's fifth installment, with 20-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (25 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       809

2. Goran Dragic (2)             586

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            497

4. James Johnson (5)          350

5. Dion Waiters (4)              346

6. Rodney McGruder (7)      266

7. Josh Richardson (6)        239

8. Justise Winslow (8)         181

9. Josh McRoberts (10)      177

10. Wayne Ellington (13)    160

Others: Derrick Williams 153, Willie Reed 152, Luke Babbitt 123, Udonis Haslem 17. 

 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 07, 2016

How much are we loving (or not) a Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, Back In My Day and Aaron Rodgers' Lobos promise, missing Dwyane Wade, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Pearlharbor1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Baltimore with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Canes' 2016 MVP isn't a player & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Back In My Day, Aaron Rodgers' promise: Summarizing my Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day. Also, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers promised to shout out "Lobos!" during a game in an upcoming cadence. No, seriously. #WeAreTheLobos

On the colossal loss of Dwyane Wade, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how the Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined as Miami fell to an NBA-worst 2-8 at home with last night's loss to the Knicks. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.

UmwvuARE WE LOVING A HURRICANES-WEST VIRGINIA BOWL MATCHUP?: Don't get me wrong. West Virginia is fine. They're 10-2 and ranked No. 16. In fact Miami has the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team, which is sort of prestigious and gives the Canes -- an early 1-point favorite -- a strong claim at finishing in the Top 25 should they win. That UM and WVU haven't faced each other since 2003 adds a layer of freshness to the matchup. But don't tell me the Mountaineers are a great team. There's a reason a four-loss UM is favored (albeit barely). There also is a reason 10 teams with two or more losses are ranked higher than WVU. Me, I'd have preferred that Miami's bowl opponent was the old rival Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, the Georgia Bulldogs -- both of which were pumped up in the media as strong possibilities. In any case I'm curious what you think; hence, this poll!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 13 RESULTS: ROUGH ON PREDIX, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROLLIN': Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: We went 8-7 both ways, which is pretty awful straight-up but marginally OK against the spread. We're now a solid 24 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos bopped Breezango (the wrestler), 121-88, fueled by 27 points from reigning MVL Devonta Freeman and 24 from Mel Gordon. That seventh strauight victory makes us 10-3 to end the regular season, the radio show league's No. 1 seed entering the playoffs. Our upcoming first postseason opponent: Dan "Auto-Pilot" LeBatard. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (20 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. Starring now we expand to a top 10 by e-mail request. (It was actually one guy, but he's emailed twice; thanks, Larry!). With Miami now 7-13 entering tonight's home date vs. the Knicks, here's the Luddite's fourth installment, with 15-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (20 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       669

2. Goran Dragic (4)             416

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            386

4. Dion Waiters (2)              346

5. James Johnson (5)           328

6. Josh Richardson (7)        205

7. Rodney McGruder (8)     200

8. Justise Winslow (6)         181

9. Luke Babbitt (9)             123

10. Josh McRoberts (12)    100

Others: Derrick Williams 99, Willie Reed 96, Wayne Ellington 73, Udonis Haslem 16.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2016

Exclusive: Trump reaches out to Hillary to help get Howard Schnellenberger into College Hall of Fame; plus Butch Davis to FIU, latest SOPY standings, Radio Tuesday, your Brad Kaaya stay-or-go verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15. R.I.P., Gardnar Mulloy, the Miami tennis legend, passed away at age 102. 2) Check out previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results -- a season high. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win fourth straight with DSM poll, Butch Davis to FIU, Hot BUtton Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be?, the latest, on Fins' resourcefulness in this four-game win streak. Also: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show also televised on ESPNU.

TrumpletterEXCLUSIVE: TRUMP ASKS HILLARY TO HELP GET SCHNELLENBERGER IN COLLEGE HALL OF FAME!: It's true. We have just learned that in May of 2015, then-businessman Donald J. Trump, now the U.S. president-elect, wrote a letter to Hillary on behalf of Howard Schnellenberger's candidacy for the College Football Hall of Fame. Pictured is the letter; click on it for a larger image that may be Howardeasier to read. The "Ms. Jeffries " to whom the letter is addressed is Hillary Jeffries, director of special projects for the National Football Foundation (NFF), which oversees the Hall of Fame. Jeffries' duties include "complete oversight of the College Football Hall of Fame nomination and voting processes." Wait. What!? You thought the Hillary in the headline was Clinton!? Oh how silly! Would I mislead you like that just to get a few more clicks for my blog? How low would that be! At any rate Schnellenberger, of course, is the former Miami Hurricanes 1983 national-championship coach who later resurrected Louisville's program and then birthed the FAU program from scratch. In effect he is on the coaching Mount Rushmore of three different FBS schools but cannot get into the Hall because of its misguided rule of a minimum .600 winning percentage for induction, a rule that penalizes men like DonaldHoward who dare to take over, rebuild and ultimately save struggling teams. I have written on behalf of Schnellenberger's induction; click on Let Howard In! As for the letter, I am told Schnellenberger and Trump crossed paths during the time one coached FAU in Boca Raton and the other owned properties and a home there. There also was a distant football tie. Trump owned the USFL's Washington General in the 1980s and tried to hire Schnellenberger away from UM before the coach decided to leave instead for a team being bought by local businessman Sherwood "Woody" Weiser, a deal that never came to fruition. The recent letter shown was elicited by advocates pushing for Schnellenberger's Hall induction. One wonders if the letter may be revisited and given added weight now that the writer is White House-bound. I suppose it may depend on the political leaning of the folks who run the NFF. In any case, sorry, but the idea of Trump writing to Hillary on this matter was too much fun for me to resist.

ON BUTCH DAVIS JOINING FIU: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him this afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

SOPY RANKINGS / CROWN HIM NOW! FLOWERS IN FULL BLOOM TO WIN 'STATE HEISMAN': Here is the game South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (from Miami Jackson High) Sopyhad on Saturday: 24-for-29 passing for 263 yards and three TDs, with 210 yards rushing and two more scores. And you wonder why he is dominating the fifth season of our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings? Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams have played 10 games except the Florida Gators, with nine. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 12, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 11:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk11       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                371.5      2,422.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         126         1,726

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 124.5      1,549.5

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      122         1,283

5      6      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       201.5      1,254

6      5      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      BYE         1,159.5

7      8      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      136         1,132

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     128         1,128 

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                        BYE           961

10   --      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec                  213           926

Bubble: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 867. Other team leader: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 684. Week 11 best: Flowers, 371.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (7-3); 2. Florida (7-2); 3. South Florida (8-2); 4. Miami (6-4); 5. UCF (6-4); 6. FIU (3-7); 7. FAU (3-7). Did you notice? Our state was unbeaten in FBS last week. FIU had a bye, but all six other state teams won. 

Poll result: Kaaya will stay, not turn pro: We asked if you thought Hurricanes QB would return for senior season or enter the NFL Draft, and was 77.6 percent stay to 22.4% go. Hmm. May be a little wishful thinking in that disparity?

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Twitter @gregcote